Saturday, June 14, 2014

Maybe a Silver Lining?

Something is different this visit - I can actually smell it in the air as the plane empties.  The distinctive odor of DEET fills the airport corridor as my fellow passengers, consisting almost entirely of 't-shirt groups' coat themselves in mosquito spray before they even hit the open air.

Chikungunya - it's everywhere.  On everyone's mind, on the news, the topic of constant conversation.  What I'm hearing here on the ground doesn't match what I've been told by medical professionals who are watching closely from a distance.  Duration and intensity of symptoms appears to vary wildly.  So does repetition.  I was told you can only catch this thing once, but Margarette is telling me she knows a lot of people who had already had it more than once.  I'll have to dig into this to see if it's actually one long illness or actual re-infections with a slightly different strain of the virus.  It's a mystery we're all very motivated to solve.

So far, most of the kids in our care have been pretty lucky; miserable for a few days and then bouncing back.  But our housekeeper Sherely was sick for over two weeks, and she tells me that her wrists and ankles are still aching.  She shows me veins risen under her beautiful, sleek skin.  I expect to see veins on me, but not on Sherley who has always had skin fit to make a fashion model weep.  I wonder if it's high blood pressure or stress?  But then she shows me some edema on the back of her neck and I wonder if it's some sort of overall fluid retention.  I'll have to check in with our consulting physicians.

I have been in Haiti less than twelve hours, and despite repeated, thorough dousing in bug spray I've already been bitten three times.  The best way to avoid being bitten by a mosquito in Haiti is to stand next to me!  US 'skeeters don't like me, but perhaps I'm sweeter when I'm down here.  So here's the silver lining - if/when I get Chikungunya too, at least I'll be able to record my symptoms carefully and pass along the information to those who are tracking the virus.

In other news, IBESR released a memo today that appears to clarify several finer points of the law.  I have learned that IBESR interviews with biological families who wish to relinquish their  children are being scheduled, and at long last court visits as required under the new law are being arranged.  I intend to post the translation of IBESR's notice as soon as our translator returns it.

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